Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Plutarch
Editor: John D. Cox
Not Peer Reviewed

Life of Caesar


LXI. Besides these occasions and offences, there followed also his shame and reproach, abusing the tribunes of the people in this sort.

The feast of Lupercalia.

At that time the feast Lupercalia was celebrated, the which in old time men say was the feast of shepherds or herdmen, and is much like unto the feast of the Lycaens in Arcadia. But howsoever it is, that day there are divers noblemen's sons, young men, (and some of them magistrates themselves that govern then), which run naked through the city, striking in sport them they meet in their way with leather thongs, hair and all on, to make them give place. And many, noblewomen and gentlewomen also go of purpose to stand in their way, and do put forth their hands to be stricken, as scholars hold them out to their schoolmaster to be stricken with the ferula: persuading themselves that, being with child, they shall have good delivery; and so, being barren, that it will make them to conceive with child. Caesar sat to behold that sport upon the pulpit for orations, in a chain of gold, apparelled in triumphant manner.

Antonius, being Consul, was one of the Lupercalians.

Antonius, who was Consul at that time, was one of them that ran this holy course. So when he came into the market-place, the people made a lane for him to run at liberty, and he came to Caesar, and

Antonius presented the diadem to Caesar.

presented him a diadem wreathed about with laurel. Whereupon there rose a certain cry of rejoicing, not very great, done only by a few appointed for the purpose. But when Caesar refused the diadem, then all the people together made an outcry of joy. Then Antonius offering it him again, there was a second shout of joy, but yet of a few. But when Caesar refused it again the second time, then all the whole people shouted. Caesar having made this proof, found that the people did not like of it, and thereupon rose out of his chair, and commanded the crown to be earned unto Jupiter in the Capitol. After that, there were set up images of Caesar in the city, with diadems upon their heads like kings. Those the two tribunes, Flavius and Marullus, went and pulled down, and furthermore, meeting with them that first saluted Caesar as king, they committed them to prison. The people followed them rejoicing at it, and called them Brutes, because of Brutus, who had in old time driven the kings out of Rome, and that brought the kingdom of one person unto government of the Senate and people. Caesar was so offended withal, that he deprived Marullus and Flavius of their tribuneships, and accusing them, he spake also against the people, and called them Bruti and Cumani, to wit, beasts and fools.